"Tell me what you cherish most. Give me the pleasure of taking it away."

"Everything will be all right now."

"Cloud's back!"

When Cloud had woken up, he'd thought things were finally at peace. The way he wanted it to be—finished, with no Kadaj or Loz or Yazoo, with no Shinra to battle or Sephiroth to defeat. Everything simply at ease.

And yet Strife found himself sitting alone, awake no matter the late hour, glowing mako optics staring out into the inky black sky, reflecting the large moon so that his dark pupils seemed white instead.

Cloud's blonde head tilted down as a silver streak crossed the sky. Silver—like that indestructible sheet of hair. As the shooting star faded, Cloud's gloved hands curled into fists.

Sephiroth plagued him, like traces of a haunting dream long since past. Every memory with those glowing eyes full of hatred and despair in it tormenting him. Sephiroth had gone—and so he had effectively taken away just what Cloud loathed—and cherished—most. When it came to promised suffering, that one-winged angel kept his word.

Standing up from his sitting position on the bed he was occupying that night, leather clasped around leather as the ex-SOLDIER lifted his old sword effortlessly, (he had found it in the ruins of old Midgar,) pushing open the sliding door to the small deck outside.

The steel shined sharply as Cloud lifted it to eyelevel—like that sheet of silver hair… It had been restored to surprisingly good condition. Cloud didn't even understand why he wanted it anymore—he was trying to forget memories of fighting Sephiroth, not hang on to them.

Or was he?

Cloud hefted the sword in an arc around his body, turning swiftly to stare in the other direction for no reason. Sighing and shaking his head, the confused warrior leaned against the deck's railing.

"I will never be a memory…"

Cloud stared out into the massive expanse of sky, each star singling itself out to him. Was this how Sephiroth had seen the sky? Did fallen angels even look to the heavens? Or did they occupy themselves with destroying what was beneath their feet, rather than concentrating on stargazing?

Most certainly.

"I don't understand…" Hoarse words barely escaped Cloud's lips, and he was surprised that it had taken so much effort to speak at all.

"It's good to see you, Cloud."

That solid stare—unflinching, powerful. Sephiroth knew how he left all others behind—and Cloud knew that Sephiroth would never have let him forget it. Mockery was second nature, and killing was first.

Cloud turned away from the railing, making to walk back inside, and see if he couldn't persuade his obsessive brain to turn off for a while, and at least restrict itself to dreams of Sephiroth. However, a slight noise caught his attention, and the blonde fighter turned swiftly, sword aloft. He saw nothing, but just when his sword lowered, a single inky feather fluttered from the sky above Cloud, shiny black passing just before one pale blue eye.

"I will never be a memory."

Cloud gasped, and his sword dropped from his grip entirely, falling with a vibrating thunk on the wood of the porch. His eyes widened considerably before the swishing of a leather trench coat, the sharp gleam of the masmune that had spilled Cloud's blood on more than one occasion. Cloud's eyes locked on Sephiroth's in that instant, shock and disbelief washing over the spike-haired swordsman as mocking words flowed from smirking lips.

"Did you miss me… Cloud?"